Do you use RSS readers? Add Smash Notes to your daily!
Yo! Podcast on Smash Notes

#004 – Jason Schuller – Product Designer, Founder Leeflets, Co-Founder RIVYT

Yo! Podcast podcast.

April 29

Jason Schuller is a designer, maker and minimalist based in Seattle, Washington. His first success was with Press75, a WordPress theme shop that infamously sold $75 themes raking in millions of dollars over several years. However money is no driver for Jason, who sold the business to pursue stimulating side-projects like Leeflets, Droplets, Cinematico, RIVYT and even joined the team over at Plasso for while. Luckily for us Jason isn’t afraid to go deep. We talk about the moment everything changed, finding the right co-founder and the struggle of competing with previous monetary success.

0:00
0:00
download episode
0:0

I think if you have drive and you have passion for something, you want to build something, there is no one perfect way to do that. I think you should do it however you can. And if there are ways that you can build that thing and it's not perfect out the door, but it gets the idea out there. I think getting it out before it's perfect

0:19
Who is Jason Schuller?

Jason Schuller is a designer and maker based in Seattle, Washington. His first success came with Press75, a site that sold Word Press themes, selling millions of dollars of themes over the first few years. He sold that business and went on to pursue other stimulating projects. You can find Jason at http://jason.sc



is better than not getting it out at all. You're listening to the Yo Podcast with Rob Hope. Jason Chua is a designer maker and minimalist based in Seattle, Washington. His first success came with Press 75 a WordPress theme shop that infamously sold $75 themes, raking in millions of dollars over several years. However, money is no driver for Jason, who sold the business to pursue stimulating side projects like leaflets, drop list cinematic a rivet and even joined the team at class. So for a while, luckily for us, Jason isn't afraid to go deep. We talk about the moment everything changed, finding the right co founder and the struggle of competing with previous monetary success. Yo, Jason, welcome to the show, my man. Hey, thanks.

1:14

It's good to be talking to you. Finally.

1:16

Cool. So you're based in Seattle, Washington. I am. Is it true that everyone still weighs Nirvana shits and listens to grunge? Uh, I'd say

1:25

it's well, my generation does if if your nirvana shirt still isn't full holes. Yeah, people were still sporting them, but I don't know about brunch. I still do. For sure. I still have that playlist. It pops up. Um, and I'm still checking into it. All my friends do that new generations on that shirt

1:46

are. They said I was trying to work out. You know, since you're born in 75 you must be in about 16. By the time Nirvana nevermind came out, man, I was Did you ever see them life? I had

1:56

tickets to see them live, and I couldn't make the show. Wow. So no, I never saw them live. And that's that's a big regret of mine. That would have been an amazing show. Amazing history. That's gonna be bigger than any. Yeah. I mean, I've seen Foo Fighters and Soundgarden and Red Hot Chili Peppers all when they were in their prime. And Nirvana was the one that that kind of escaped me from

2:19

Seattle. Wow, that's gonna be bigger than, like, any startup regret.

2:23

Probably from a bleed, right, cause it's it's such a historical thing. You're never gonna see Kurt Cobain ever. Unless they do some kind of V. R thing, you know, in the future. But, um, yeah, that was That was definitely when I missed out on for sure.

2:39

Okay, So before we dive into a current side projects, that's rewind to 1990 eight's again. And if my research is correct, you were a Web master at Boeing. So what on earth does a Web master actually do in 1998?

2:55
How can you get a job without any experience in the field?

Back in 1998 Jason Schuller got a webmaster job at Boeing without knowing anything about the web, or at least not being a web designer on paper. He reverse-engineered web pages by inspecting their code and learning from the source, teaching himself how to design and code. At the end, he was able to pitch those skills to Boeing and basically to create a job where one did not exist.



I don't know. I think I was pretty much I think I sold that job on the folks a bullet because I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't know anything about the Web back then, other than there was like Yahoo Aah! And things like that. And pretty much what I was doing is, is reverse engineering what pages? So I would like, save them as local files and kind of comb through the code and try to make them, you know, do different things. So if I had an idea for making this layout with a grid. I would literally down though the like a Yahoo like store page or something like that, and go into the source code in, you know, refine it and make it my own. And that's kind of how I tie myself Web design and development at the time. And I was able to pass that off enough to to sell blowing on a Which is kind of funny, eh?

3:48

So what were you doing? The internal

3:50

sites? Yeah, I was doing all the internal sites at Boeing. So they have thousands of internal organizational pages in even to this day there. Still built on static html wow. And, ah, which is its craziness

4:4

to me. And I like what kind of tools were using back then? Like, what is your app? I remember using dream. Maybe, but I think that was even 2003 or something.

4:12

Yeah, I think it was What Microsoft have it at the time. What was that called Maker side front page one page or something like that. I think it's front page and, you know, and then when Dreamweaver came out, that was definitely the big thing That everybody was using. And, um,

4:29

I was too fast for the 2007. And you got intrigued by this new kid on the block court, WordPress, right. He started online resource called W P Elements where you blogged about how to create themes while giving away a few. And I'm just thinking, it's crazy to think, 12 years ago, you actually one of the originals documenting while you have building.

4:50
Why would you leave a stable full-time job at Boeing to pursue making Word Press themes?

At the time when Jason was a web designer at Boeing, the company was running a ton of single stand-alone html pages, employing dozens of people to do all this work. Jason was WordPress as an opportunity to eliminate the clutter, to put all the web assets under a single roof. He pitched this idea to the management, but because WordPress was an open source product, the managed turned it down. Excited about the future with Word Press and feeling his job stagnating, Jason left the company to start his own.



Yeah. I mean, that was really That was really a breakout moment for me because I was working at Boeing, and it was obvious to me that that my career wasn't really going anywhere in a company like that, especially in Web design and development. And I had actually pitched going on WordPress, like, literally, you could use a single installation of WordPress that managed the entirety of your internal. You know, organizational web infrastructure, like a multi said, Yeah, like a multi site like through one literal install of WordPress. And you could eliminate hundreds of jobs. Nothing that one of the get people fired. But,

you know, it was it was this thing where where upper level management was super impressed by the idea. And I pitched it to them. And I even developed a theme and and they weren't impressed. And that's kind of what spurred me. Toe start looking outside of bowing and talk about what I was doing with WordPress outside of

5:43

Boeing. Interesting. So it's almost like they went on board with the progression of the web and they didn't want to change that. And you were like, What? I have to move this way? Yeah,

5:52

I mean, and for them, it came down to open source software. I mean, you cannot have open source software powering something that is internals of the company. And so I don't know if they're if they're mentality has shifted since then, but back then, it was definitely like a big no, no tohave

6:10
How can I market my product for free?

When starting out, Jason documented his learning in public, blogging about his progress and giving away templates and lessons for free. That attracted a following, which in turn started to blog about their own progress.



open source just quickly back on W P elements. You know, you would documenting as you were going. You're giving away freebies, resource. You're helping people. Would you still that I still say that's solid advice in 2019 to just document as you go because you were learning while you're building templates? Yeah.

6:27
How would you go about getting free and natural marketing today?

Blogging was popular in 2000s and today it is all about audio and video. If Jason were to start another project for which to share progress, he would recommend doing less writing and more audio and video as a way to engage the community.



I mean, that was natural marketing, right? Yeah. People who were getting started and where press were following me along as they were getting started on their own journeys. And and so it was just this natural progression of marketing. I need to actually kind of go back and do the same thing I was doing before because, as I learned now I find that I'm not talking enough about it, right. It's such a powerful tool to be able to block about what you're learning and your journey. And I think people are naturally attracted to documentation like that into online articles like that and to follow that journey.

7:3

It's quite interesting, you know, just what you chatting before we hit record is that you know someone can, you know, follow your full journey just to a podcast time and you can record a lesson every day of your build and just put it out there. You know, just need a microphone and you can. I mean, Spotify. There's no Barrett entry. Really. You can use get anchor and you can create a podcast for free. And so this is like almost the new ways people can follow your journey. It can be through pod costs, and that's right, consume pretty passively

7:30

and easily. Yeah, I mean, I think if I were to do it today, it would definitely be in this form of audio or, you know, video as well. Probably audio with supplemental videos here and there. I don't know that I would go back to writing articles,

7:44

so that's break quick into an intermission. I like to call true false. Um, maybe. Okay, simply shoot back. Any of those three words. Are you ready? Sure. A modern day web master is really just a designer that can could. True simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. True, you work no more than six hours a day. Absolutely true. Minimus design is actually very difficult. True. And the correct price for any premium WordPress theme must be $75 false. I know you told the story so many times, but I love if you could just shared one more time of the year audience. You release your first premium WordPress team for $5 then you go for a walk. Yeah.

8:32

Yeah, man, it's true. I, um I was seen with guys like Brand Gardner and 80 from Lou. Themes were doing so. I think back then it was like Brian was doing his premium theme, which was like a news theme and 80 doing was doing his news theme as well. And I had this idea for a video thing because nobody was doing video of the time for WordPress and I threw this thing together. It was literally the simple, like grid layout where you click the thumb now in a plate of video like a YouTube in bed. And I kicked it out there and it's like I just gonna charge $5 for this thing and see what it does. And my wife and I went for a walk. An hour later, I come home and it had sold God, I don't even remember. It was a lot of copies. It sold a lot. It was enough to kind of, you know, set the lightbulb off in my head and spur me to kind of follow that that

9:28

trend. Well, would you say that was safely a moment that sort of changed everything?

9:32

It changed everything for me, Absolutely did. It just kind of opened my eyes to what you could do on your own versus working for a company versus, you know, doing client work. You could actually build a product, put it out there and sell it and create a sustainable business. That's the idea that was almost instantaneously put into my head.

9:55
Was word press video themes the obvious gap for the taking, or was this an accidental discovery?

Around June 2008 when Jason made his first video theme, everyone else was focused on blogging. All the themes looked fairly similar, and none fit his needs. Jason was passionate about video, they were very visual, you could have a lot of beauty and interaction. Nobody was doing it, and it just so happened that he carved out a niche doing what he was passionate about.



And it hasn't left since. So without diving too deep, it's around. June 2000 eight's and you shipping these video centric board per Seems. Okay, everything. Press 75 theme shop. Was this video niche an obvious gap you spotted? Or is it more like you're a passionate just designing video themes? Yeah, I

10:16

just think it was more. I was passion about designing video themes because everybody was doing blogging themes and they all kind of look the same. They were all kind of this new Z layout with taxed and long form, you know, articles. And there wasn't a lot of visual, I don't know, essence to them. And what I liked about video themes were there was a lot of visual noise on the page. Ray, you could You could have these beautiful thumb now. Yeah, and just a little bit attacks. And, you know, there is this interactivity of clicking that thumb now and launching a video, and nobody was doing it back then. I want to say honestly, I was like the 1st 1 that kind of carve out that that Nash for video WordPress themes in it and definitely worked in my favor.

11:2

I want to say, Well, so I'm just actually thinking I haven't got this question down, but you choose, I think Was it quiet in 2006 and then obviously, Google kicked things off. You know, just ramp things up, and this is, you know, two years in, right? We've got your themes going up. So did you Were you buying that outs? Were trying out this transit. Just keep designing as you were putting a head

11:24

down. No, I was just designing as I was keeping my head down. I wasn't doing any market research. I wasn't. I wasn't falling along what the trends were. I was I was just doing what came kind of natural, what I wanted to do. I knew that the designing video centric themes was just something I love to do with my time. And so I just kept cranking them out and, you know, the it just it fell into line. I do want to say there was a lot of luck. I want to say a lot of stars aligning right, Tiu. My business growth is it is. It was back then because I didn't market my stuff. I was just kind of playing and having fun and everything kind of line in a way where it just kind of worked out. Yeah,

12:10

I find this fascinating because you you are designing video themes, cause you kind of just love designing them. You love the idea of what you're gonna create and how people going to use them. And someone else probably spotted that Google trend, you know? Well, the video trained with the Google acquisition, saw what you were doing, heard about your sales and then was like, I need to get in. But they actually weren't that passionate about videos. And your product probably was better because of your passion.

12:36

Yeah, maybe so. I don't I don't know. I mean, in hindsight, like when you do follow your passion and you're just doing something because you love it versus doing something because you think you're gonna make a buck. I do think that that that stars aligning moment can come more often than not if you're if you're gonna Yeah, if you're gonna do something do it because you love it, Not because you think you're gonna turn around and sell it. That's why I don't like all these thieves startups whose whose goals are to literally kick something out six months and offload it to a Google or something. Because you're not doing it for the love of the product you're doing it for for the level of money. And I feel like the product suffers because of that sometimes. And you're not really innovating in those moments. You're kind of just kicking things out because you think you're gonna You're gonna turn it around and make a whole

13:29

bunch of money so we'll get into the peak now. But I'm just looking at the samba 2008. You had a short partnership with Brian Gardner. You called revolution, too? Yeah, and you guys split after a couple months, obviously still friends. But you quote it, you quoted in a medium article. I quickly realized that Brian and I were, but too much alike in a ll the wrong ways in order to foster a good working partnership. So I want to ask you what is the perfect symphony needed for a found a partnership

13:59

to work. I don't know. I haven't found it yet. I've been looking for it. Actually, I do want to say that, You know, I have worked on projects with with other people, and it has worked out in favor of the project. I think when you have two people like Brian and I who are so aligned and how we work and how we build and what we want to do, And, um when you have so much alignment that you're kind of stepping on each other's toes that it's not necessarily a good thing. I do think there's something to be said about having having that opposite, right? Yeah, that that kind of fills the gaps. And Brian and I didn't have that, Um, and I think that's what the what the problem was. And we realize that

14:43

quickly stepping in here. Like what about just accepting that. Maybe you don't need a partner ever. It's just not

14:50

not for you. Yeah, Maybe that's maybe that's what the Maybe that's what the world is telling me. I don't know. I'm trying to figure that out now, Like I'm going through this huge transition period of having sold my business five years ago. And having worked with startups and having built new things and kind of seeing them through and what's going on and and I'm trying to kind of, you know, read the signs a little bit and take you know what? I can learn from those experiences and figure out what my next thing is and ah, yeah, I mean, you learned those lessons, and I'm starting to feel that maybe maybe it's okay to be on your own, right? Absolutely. Maybe it's okay.

Toe toe, launch your own things. And absolutely something I've learned is that it's okay to keep small to stay small. You can launch something and have your own little pool, right, And it's and it could be successful on your level, and it doesn't have to grow beyond that. And I think that's one of the biggest mistakes I made with with Press 75 my WordPress themed businesses. I saw what other people were doing like 80 Brian Gardner and how fast they were growing their businesses into these huge enterprises on. And I had this this small piece of the pie with press 75 it was doing really well, but I had this ambition to grow it even bigger than what it was. And that's where I started to make mistakes, to be honest. And if I could go back, I would keep it

16:18

small. But it's just interesting at this at this point, you know, we're July 2009. I think you peaked at about 40,000 U. S. A month. Did you ever think that there was a ceiling at this point because would presses now exploding as well? Yeah,

16:33

I think there are way more opportunities and we're pressed now. It's just a matter of getting your footing in that game. So I think the opportunities and WordPress are much bigger now. I mean, especially with Gutenberg. I mean, Gutenberg is changing the game for were oppressed. There's so much revolted revolving around that editor experience and what you can do with that, and people are taking advantage of that. But I don't think getting your foot in the door is as easy as it was back when I was doing it right. There's just too

16:59

much noise. I mean, there's so many plug ins that can come bundled with the theme, and it's it actually becomes a bit of a support business at times. If you haven't played your cards, right,

17:8

Yeah, I'm not sure that themes heir the future for WordPress. I do feel that when you like plug ins and maybe blocks for Gutenberg, um, products like that, where you're adding functionality on top of WordPress and allowing people to do things that they couldn't otherwise do with just a standard theme. I think that's that's kind of the future of WordPress. It's not necessarily like the designing of a theme and releasing of

17:32

a theme okay, so fast for the 2014 earnings. But more importantly, motivation had dropped off quite a bit. And you sold press 75 to West work. I got a question here from Gilbert from Scotland. Hey, Jason, how did it feel to sail press 75 what did you do afterwards? It

17:52

was, you know, the timing was right, because, um, it was in 2013. My daughter was born, and I mean that changes your life when you have kids. You'll never know until you have kids. Just how much it changes your life. And I just wanted to take a step back, you know, in immerse myself and in that moment of my life, So I just felt like the timing was right to offload what felt like a burden at the time. Because word president, come This this monster right is where press went from being this cool little platform that you could do specific things on to being this massive platform that wants to do everything. And that's really where I started Disconnect with WordPress and we're pressed theming in my WordPress team business.

And so after my daughter was born, I really wanted to just take a step back, sell the business, spend some time with with with her when she was, you know, baby and kind of experience that full on and Ah, yeah, yeah. I mean, the stars just kind of applying that way. And I just from that point forward, I just let go of WordPress and started working on things that interested me at the time. Kind of back to square one.

19:8

Hey, this is Steve Sugar hit that subscribe button cousin coming up in the next yo podcast. Just before we get into the newest side projects stuff. I'm currently fascinated with two things, and I want to use your story is context. Sure. You know, clearly, you know, one of your metrics for success is motivation. And you wanna be stimulated while you work. Yet you were riding. Um, you know, press 75 for years, making you know, 30 k plus a month on that's that's fair. But do you feel that your life, um, is better in any way right now by having those funds over the two years versus selling sooner and moving

19:49

on? Foster? You know, if I were to go back, I'd say the majority of the time I did press 75. I actually probably wasn't extremely happy as an entrepreneur. It was really in that first couple of years. I want to say that I was truly kind of embracing what it was to kind of do my own thing and do something driven by passion Vs driven by, you know, making a business successful. And then shortly after when your business is successful, it's kind of hard not to be, uh, you know, taken back by the success and just get wrapped up in Okay, what do I need to do next. What's the next thing I need to build?

That's gonna That's gonna make that turn for the next month in the next month and next month. And so you get wrapped up in in the in that I don't even know how to put it. You just kind of get wrapped up in the business a little bit and you kind of lose your way. And that absolutely happened to me a couple of years after. So if I were to go back, I mean, I would still sell my business. If anything, I'd sell it sooner, because, I mean, if I'm honest, even in the height of making 40 k a month, Um, where? Press themes. That's probably where I was the least happy

21:8

doing it. That's that's I mean, that's a perfect And that's exactly what I thought you would say. Um, and then just just on the second part of that question is that founders often talk about, you know, being a one hit wonder on. You know, a lot of people mentioned this, and I I'm just wondering, why are we competing with our old Selves and our old businesses? Yeah, you know, surely our current motivation is way more important than comparing Thio once upon a time. Monthly recurring

21:39

revenue. It's a hard lesson to learn, though, right, because once you have had success like that and you did make something work and especially for somebody like me who was working, ah, job in a cubicle making, you know I was I think I was making 50 k a year when I left Boeing. Ah, which I mean, I guess that wasn't bad for for a newly married guy just getting started in their career and special and kind of moving forward. But Thio leave that and within six months build a business from scratch into a 20 than 30 than $40,000 a month business. I mean, that definitely kind of skews your perception of what's possible. You have what's possible, and so you kind of you kind of get into this place of Oh shit, I did it once.

It's gonna be that easy again, right? Like I can just I can just do the same thing over again. And that's just like the sad truth is, you can't do that. You can't just make something and people are gonna show up because it's good on, and that's that. That's the thing I've struggled with over the last five years because I'm rambling. But by all means, like, I feel that the work that I'm putting out there and the ideas I'm putting out there are on a whole new level better than what I was doing with Press 75 WordPress themes. And none of them are as successful. And that doesn't mean that they don't lead to other opportunities because they do. But if I were to gauge based on previous success, I mean none of them have kind of reached that pinnacle of success that I had with with

23:16

Press 75. Yeah, I guess this leads back to the fundamental question of you know, what do you defining a successful

23:22

right on dhe? That's that's kind of one of going back to you now. And for me. Um, it's It's definitely not the success of the business and how much money you make. It's it's. But it is definitely the ability to do something you love, right? Yeah. Um, and and not feel like you're goingto work during the day like I want to feel like I'm just going up to my office and doing something I love and in providing value. And if I can make a living doing that, which I am, um, I'm I'm cool with it. So in in in that way, I feel like what I'm doing now is kind of a success in it of itself, even though it's different from from what it was before.

24:6

Absolutely. I mean, that's a great answer. You know, for myself, my metrics for success right now, and I also I'm away. It can change. My metric is freedom, right? And it's the its ability to not do the same thing every day, the ability to not work for three or four days. You know, I've spent years designing that life on Dhe. I can safely say I'm not even near 30 k recurring, but I feel like I've got a successful career. If that makes sense, I'm super motivated and satisfied with each day. Today's work, no matter what it is

24:42

and it varies. Yeah, absolutely. It varies, and I think that's a really good word to describe it. The freedom, the freedom to do, kind of what you want and drive your own future. And I think that it's really important Meteo to show my daughter that, too, like she grows up. And she has seen that her dad is there every day and that he's doing something he wants to do versus getting in a car, driving toe work, sitting in an office, being a cog in a wheel, coming home, having an hour of time before she has to go to bed.

You know, she seemed that there's a different way to do it, and I'm I'm hoping that I can, like, see that in her whether she decides toe become an office employee. I mean, that's her choice. She could become an accountant for all I know, and she might be extremely happy doing it that I want to show her that there are other ways to this life than just the traditional. I got to go to school, get an education, be hundreds of $1000 in debt, get a job working in office eight hours a day to make a living. You know, I just don't I can't company hand going back to that at this point, and I want to show her it's one of the most important things for me to show her that there is other ways of going about this

25:53

life. Amen. Brother, That's wonderful. Debts, transition into quick intermission and lights called No context. Okay, so I'm gonna give you two words. You choose either of them. No context number had analog or digital Digital Instagram, Twitter, Instagram The Killers or Death Cab for Cutie Death Camp Nirvana or Foo Fighters. Nirvana. Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture or the Pacific Sign Center, Pacific Sanford Snowboarding or mountain biking, mountain baking standing or sitting discs Standing in 2015 you built a standing desk called Plank. I did. It must have been awesome to build something tangible.

26:37

Yeah, I I'm always building tangible shit. I never do anything constantly working up.

26:45

I mean, did you ever consider replicating it? It seemed like a pretty good response online. Yeah, I want

26:50

to kick start it. I really d'oh. I do want to get to a place where I kind of get over that fear of launching a physical product and watch so many people do. Like Ug Monk with his with his ah, you know, clothing line and his brand and what he's done. He's such a inspiration. Jeff Shelton, Ton Um, and I definitely want to get past that fear of building and manufacturing and selling a physical product cause it's a realm I definitely want to get into. Yeah, I didn't build this standing desk because there really wasn't anything out there that kind of suited. What I want to do is kind of the same as Web applications. That's why build solutions for the Web because there's not something that exists that does exactly what I want to dio. And so I built this standing desk using materials that I already had, and I still use it today. It's It's,

I think, the best solution for me, and it seems like a lot of people were interested in it, so it's still one of those things. I kind of want to kick, start and see what I can do with a physical product.

27:52

I mean, all those reasons you described your fear all check boxes for me on why you should

27:59

do it right? Exactly. You learn a lot, you learn a lot, and it's, um it's so much easier with the Web, right, because you can just kick something out and it makes itself Tony like you don't have to. You don't have toe put in the timeto gather materials and figure out how it's gonna be manufactured and what the costs are involved with. That with the Web, you can just kick something out and it can exist relatively easily so that the barrier to interviews just so much lower when it comes to building Web products. But I I'm getting so much closer, I feel Thio two like breaking into that physical product realm. I have so many ideas and I've worked

28:38

on so many things that just can't ignore it anymore. I don't think Hey, this is a J yo podcast Episode one You're already 30 minutes since in this episode, so don't forget it's important to stretch and hydrate back to you, Rob. So tell me quicker set up there on the standing days, what do you running? What's your hardware and what software using thio, you know, build your projects. I know you got a pretty minimal set up when it comes to self

29:4

to extremely minimal. I mean, I have ah, a 2017 Mac book pro that I use. I don't have a screen or anything. It's just a Mac book is the by far the worst Mac book I've ever had was the 1st 1 with the Is the 1st 1 with the Touch bar. And from Day one, I just it's been it's been horrible hate and touch far uh, the Mac book itself. It just seems buggy. And I Max the thing out because I was doing a lot of video production at the time for, like, all the drone videos and stuff I was doing. And, um, it just it doesn't perform its Laghi. It's the touch bar is awful,

and you know, I'm still using it today, but from the standpoint of other hardware, I just have an external keyboard and ah, little Mike for doing podcasts and that's about it. And software WAAS software waas Uh, I mean sublime for writing code for show, and I don't I don't really use any like design tools, so I do all my design and browser as I coat cool. It feels more freeing to me, and that's why I haven't been able to get a job as a designer. I had a company because they see that is Ah, is ah, is something that is Ah, you know, not good for the rest of the

30:25

team. I see your CV is like design tool crumb.

30:29

Yeah, exactly. I've definitely had these experiences where, like, a company comes to me because of the designs I'm putting out there like, yeah, we want you as a designer and then they realize how I designed my stuff there, like, Yeah, you're just not gonna work. So, um yes, it's

30:49

frustrating. Got you. So November 2016 you joined the team at Plaice. Oh, yeah, that was rad experience. Led by Drew Wilson. There was Aaliyah was on the team, right? And it seemed like a swell

31:2

time here. Oh, man, What a great team. That was so fun that year. Plus almost two years, I think I was with class, so yeah, I mean, Drew's an amazing guy. I followed him ever since he launched. I think it was called quickly, and it was his first like payments platform, and I wanted to use it for yeah, one of the use it for your selling my WordPress themes. And that's when I first kind of found drew and knew of Drew is through quickly and a remember hitting him up about a bunch of questions I had about selling my WordPress themes through quickly. And And I think we just started chatting from then on,

um and that's how we knew each other. But yeah, he was building his team a plaice. Oh, he was He was not taking no for an answer. And he, uh he raised a bunch of money and and he invited me to join along along with a bunch of other really cool, talented people. And I definitely jumped at the chance because I just respect Drew on a whole other level. He's just a He's an inspiration to me and for sure. And what happened then? Yeah. I mean, he raised his his initial round and hey, brought on everybody that did. He needed to bring on.

We designed a bunch of new products. We rebuilt class Oh, from the ground up, um, and then a year pass. And I think what it came down to you is is there just wasn't the growth there needed to be thio warrant keeping the team that he had in place at the time. And so he kind of swapped out his design development team for a marketing team a little bit and, um ah, and then drove it home. I mean, there was a couple months there where I was kind of unsure what was happening. The plaice. Oh, I wasn't a part of it anymore. But eventually, you know,

go Daddy reached out that to Drew and wow. And, uh, you know, Drew's happy go daddy now. So, I mean, that's that's a pretty awesome success story in and

32:59

of itself. It is a good And what exactly was your old in the team? I don't know what to say. I don't

33:6

find it anyway. Yeah, I don't know. I don't even know what I do now. To be honest, like he high. I think he wanted me because I was this mix of designer and developer. I understood code and I understood design, and I understood how Thio conceptualize and make new products. And so for him, it wasn't a crush like other companies. Like if I were to go again for a role as a designer at a square spacer for Facebook, Um, I'm not traditionally schooled in just designed. So they see how I go about my work as a crutch and withdrew. He was like, Yeah,

you get the whole picture. And so to him, it was it was a benefit was plus, yeah, And he wanted people like that on his team. Um and so I want to say, I was ah, designer a developer. Um, I was conceptualizing and creating potentially new products for Placido. I had been working on, um, like, a donation type space for plaice photo, and, ah,

like a Kickstarter type space for plaice. Oh, and a bunch of other little things, but yeah. I mean, working with that team was just such

34:16

a treat. Awesome. So, you know, I'm gonna transition into rivets soon, but, you know, in the back off the last few things you worked on you were always working on leaflets. Eso It's gorgeous, minimal single page sites that took, you know, many different roads. But it always kind of had the same premise. You know, beautiful one page websites. What is it about one page websites? You and me being hanging out on the stage for a long time?

34:43

Yeah. One page love, right. It's the challenge of of making something that does something so focused on specific that solves a specific problem. I'm just drawn to that. And so the initial version of leaflets was this downloadable content management system that allows you to create single page websites, and that quickly didn't work because it just didn't. And I just won't give up on it. And so it went through this iteration. Okay, I'm gonna create single page WordPress themes, and I wasn't able to break into that space. And now I've kind of built this platform where it's this really nish specific landing page generator where you can come in and you can create a single page site online and publish it on your own domain. And these things do really specific things. So it's not like a page builder I'm designing. I'm designing landing pages that do like if you wanted to raise donations for a product, there will be a solution for that.

If you just wanted a card for your instagram profile that points the links, you can do just that. You know, little things like that that do very specific things where people can come in, create their landing page and get it off the ground without having the fiddle with. Oh, I want to drag this over here and drop that over here. You know, I'm trying to create that, that experience where there's no, you know, drag time in creating your page you just created

36:16

and you're done. It's interesting because you chose to host them right at $25 oneself payment and it just interested in Why, why you chose this pricing points and why not recurring? I know we've been here before. Yeah, I

36:29

mean, because it's not Ah, I mean, and I know of A. J. And I A. J with With card has built this amazing platform where you can go create a website and you configure it however you want. And he's turning this platform into this this awesome page builder, right? Then can you can create anything, and to me that warrants that like a like a yearly subscription or a monthly subscription. But personally, I wanted to create something that was more one off right. And I feel like a lot of the things that I'm creating our temporary in nature, whether they be like, uh, like a one off product.

A book launch? Yeah, book launch. I mean, that's something that's temporary. And so to me, I wanted to kind of overcome that that subscription fatigue that I think a lot people have, like, seriously, I have to pay. That's riel monthly monthly for another product. Another service, like how many products? And you kind of lose track, right? Like you're like,

Oh, yeah. I'll check this out for a couple of months, but then you forget about it, and you've got this monthly payment of something you're not even thinking about. And so my thought is that with leaflets, these air things that may be temporary in nature, and I can sustain this business on one off purchases. Um, and if I can do that, I don't need the turn leaflets into this massive money making platform. I just want to create landing pages for people on and have them be able to launch someone off. And they're

38:1

good to go. So how did you get $25? I think that's

38:5

that's temporary. I mean, it just seemed like a good launching point. So I just last week I implemented on a template basis pricing on a template basis. So most of them are 25 bucks. Like they have this little card, one which is literally just a Cardiff Links like a link tree, basically, but better. And, Ah, um, it's five bucks. So, like, five bucks, you can sign up for leaflets and launch a card for your for your instagram profile with links to all your other platforms that you're on.

Um, and, you know, I'm gonna be doing a fundraising, uh, template. That's probably, like, 75 bucks. And then I'm gonna do somebody's actually commissioning me to do a, um, like a courses template where you can launch your courts like a video course. And, you know, I'm not sure how much that's gonna be, because that's gonna be a little bit more

39:5

involved. Okay, so So now, pretty much the most current project. If I stand corrected, his rivet. Yeah. You know, you teamed up with Christopher John, you're at the military, and you guys have created this hosted platform where you can just pump in a YouTube, euroland and other platforms now as well. And you can actually create a beautiful looking, you know, I want to say portfolio aside right, but just a beautiful looking home for your video. Yeah. I mean, the idea behind

39:32

Rivet. I mean, it kind of goes back to that passion of doing video centric content, video centric solutions and with the popularity of YouTube and twitch and and other platforms like that. I mean, Chris and I just felt like these people don't have a home like they're on these platforms. But at any time, these platforms can change the algorithm, and they're in there. Fuck. Absolutely. Right. So you should have your You should have your content in a place where you were, You're in control. And so that's kind of the idea behind rivet. You literally plug in your your YouTube channel, and it generates a website for you,

and you can choose templates. Ah, and then you can publish it on your own domain, and you can manage your content under your own domain. And it's kind of this platform agnostic solution that's automatic instead of a square space. Where, I don't know, we've talked to so many YouTubers where they're like, Oh, yeah, I'm working on my site. Have been working on it for months. It's on square, speaks I just haven't had time to launch it yet. $15 a month. Yeah,

And that's where Rivet comes into play. You can launch your site in 10 minutes. You know, uh, choose a design. Get your content up there, get your newsletter hooked up in your doctor.

40:48

Am I right in saying that it's a 20 sick and time limit from the when you pump into your old toe what you're content looks like

40:55

within the template. Yeah. I mean, that was kind of the dream we had when we set off the launch. This thing, I mean, AP eyes are so cool. And YouTube a p I yeah, was a really good starting point, cause we could literally take all the information you've really pumped into YouTube and spit that out into, like, a really beautifully designed web page. So we take your about content, your avatar, all your videos, your video thumbnails, your video descriptions,

and it all just gets generated and pumped into this site. Um, and then you can go in and configure it if you want, or you can just leave it as is, um so we give you the control of the kind of go beyond just connecting to the A p I and bringing the content in. Um, you can actually go in and change your thumb now's and change your descriptions and things like that, but yeah, 20 seconds about from start to finish,

41:47

excellence, I want to just get in your head now is a make it is that you guys take pride in the on boarding of rivets and, you know, just to see that, you know, satisfaction within 30 seconds of what things are gonna look like. Incredible for the on boarding experience. But when I go back to leaflets, you haven't email sign up before. You can actually interact with any templates. I want to know

42:10

why you did that. I'm gonna change that. Actually, I'm gonna I'm gonna revert

42:13

ties that, you know, A J. Yeah. From card has really done a great thing where you can actually create almost your final products before getting an email. Yeah, I don't know why

42:22

I did it that way. To be honest, it was a second thought and and now that I'm going back and I'm thinking about it, and I have all these people using fake email addresses the test out leaflets. I'm definitely kind of going to go back and change that on boarding experience, where you can just generate a leaflet and play around with it and then publish it. If you want that the publish, you'll sign up. So that's

42:45

coming soon. Hey, Friends, it's Rob from the edit. Thought I just slide in a little self promo here and shut out the yo newsletter at robert dot com. Forward slash e Oh, it's weekly and simply lists new design and development finds no silly things like advertising or even images. Come to think about it. I think the 50% open rate says a lot about the send and to those of you already subscribed big. Thank you. So your 1st $5 theme was trailer flick. You did press 75. You did cinematic A. You got rivet. Now what is it about video? I don't know. I look

43:20

I think video and audio are the future. I really do. I think it's such an engaging way Thio interact with your audience that just isn't there with Tex. And plus I'm dyslexic s o. I have a hard time reading words Eyes I like that. I like the ability. Yeah, I'm totally this. I would love to read more books. I just can't, because because of the way my brain works and and I just have a hard time reading books in general. Uh, but I don't know. I think the imagery and the visual you get with video and even the engagement you get with audio it's just it's just not the same as his tax. And I do think that there is a huge future. They're not that it's not already here. I just thinkit's gonna grow substantially over the next several years. And I really do think that video and audio or the future

44:16

So your partner, Chris, are you guys in a 50 50 partnership with Rivers?

44:21

Yeah, we're in a 50 50 partnership, but we're in this place now where we feel like in order to kind of get this thing in front of people that haven't seen it where we're wanting to take on a partner. So, like we're sales. Yeah, we're considering like bringing on a strategic partner that that could drive this thing in the right direction because it comes down Thio, I don't think it's a product problem. I really don't because the people we have on boarded, um, have given us, like, so much praise for building this thing. And they say It's the thing they've been looking for forever. And we've gone to you to meet ups and you do conferences and we get the same reaction. So it's it's definitely we're missing something in the ER on the marketing side of things. How do we get this thing

45:12

out there? So you saying that you meet up with Chris, you know, every now and again and you chat about product and so on how important it is to meet face to face when it comes to having a cofounder.

45:21

Yeah. I mean, when we were building this thing, we were meeting it least once a week, if not twice a week at a cafe. That's kind of central here in in Seattle, and it just it gave us that opportunity to sit side by side and and half the time we didn't even have our screens open. We had a piece of paper in front of us, and we were, you know, flowing out like processes. And in what the product is gonna flow like and potentially new ideas for template, options and features. And it was all done on paper and pencil. And you can't do that. You can't have that process. It's just too slow.

It's too slow. It's, too. It just don't get the same feeling is women. And plus, you can sit down. You can have. You know, you can have a coffee or a couple of beers, right? Yeah. And you know, the Conference C's conversation leads elsewhere, and you don't get that over over. Aah! Over a mike.

46:17

A few more questions. We wrap it up, so just say, rivets explodes. You know, you bring on the new person and things get crazy. You guys of I don't actually like talking about numbers, to be honest, But let's say you make in a $1,000,000 per month recurring revenues of business again. I feel that you're gonna be working on side

46:38

projects. I think I will, too. I don't think I'll ever it's just the way my brain works. It's I feel it's kind of a curse at times to be honest, and I see it, my daughter to, um, and you can call it spiritedness, or you can call it for whatever you want to call it. I would say 80 D is the most, like a technical term for it, I guess. Fair enough. Um, but yeah, I just I can't let something go.

Like if I have an idea for something, I have to have to make it. And that's one of the reasons I made leaflets. Because most of the ideas I have for the Web can be done within that that realm of of of leaflets. And so now that I have this platform where Aiken iterated on new ideas, it kind of solves that problem I have in that itch I have of I've got this idea for something new and wow, I can I can go create a leaflet for that. Um, literally. Somebody tweeted out a couple weeks ago how they they didn't have a page for ah ah paid contact form. They wanted just away Thio, um, have a pig contact for him on their website. Right where somebody can come in and say, Oh, I have a question about this.

And before the for miss admitted they had it goes through a pay wall And so I took a week and made that on leaflets and put it out there, and it exists Amazing. Um and so, yeah, I mean, it's it's it's the ability to do that, but at the same time, it's it's kind of I have to force myself to focus, Um, and it's really, really hard. It's one of the things I struggle with most, and I see it, my daughter to where she has a super super hard time, like focusing on one thing. But once she's focused on the one thing she wants to focus on, she's old in. Yeah, she's all in. There's no getting her out of

48:22

it. I mean, there's partisan cons to that is this? I don't think there's a wrong answer

48:26

that Yeah, there's pros and Constant. Yeah, I don't think so either. So I'm trying to better myself and and be a little bit more balanced, and just seeing how my daughter is is kind of growing and struggling with that a little bit. I'm trying to help her out, and so I feel like we're learning a lot about myself, and I'm able to help my daughter a little bit more based on what

48:48

I'm learning about. So awesome. So second last question. Let's just say you've had monetary success in the past eyes. And you said your wife, I think she's an accountant and you guys have, you know, done quite well financially. So I assume right now you're not struggling. That's just total assumption. What is stopping you from being an architect? A. Right now, because you've mentioned that was your childhood dream. It's It would be aside for big

49:12

Big One, I think. I mean, it definitely was my childhood dream. But if if I were to go back and think on it, it's not that I wouldn't want to design houses. I still do design houses. I just designed a house that I want to build for us within the next 10 years. I sat down just this last year and designed something from the ground up that I hope will be our next house. But the struggle is there. Yeah, I've had monetary success in the past, and what people don't understand is, is that, um that can go away, like, right away.

And absolutely no, I've had It's not that I haven't been able to sustain the living I need to sustain in orderto make it by. It's just it hasn't been what it was in the past. And so most of that success that we, uh, that we gain from from press 75 we're press themes that went into, like, savings accounts, right? Yep, that they shouldn't or can't be touched until you're of a certain age type of thing. And and so we try to think of that Money is like non existent. And so if you think of that money, it's not existent. I'm nowhere near where I need to be right now. Tiu be comfortable with with just saying, Oh, I just want to go off and be in an architect.

50:34

I think that's a pretty smart mind set to take

50:38

the well. I hope so. Some would say, like Drew Drew is Drew is way more. Ah, risk taking guy, right? Like he I think he's mentioned the past like he had. He's got like, he's got kids and you know, he before plaice Oh, he just said no, I'm just gonna sell my house. I'm gonna take the kids in an RV and in tour the country for a year, and then I'm gonna raise money for Placido and we're gonna move back to Carlsbad, and and this is what's happening. And I'm like,

Holy shit, I would never do that with one kid versus, you know, I think you have three kids at the time and ah, you think he said in the past, he hasn't had a savings account up until now, and and he's just kind of living by by what he does, what he puts out there and and, you know, awesome for him. Placido work, you know, and he's kind of changed. It's changed who is, and it's changes this lifestyle, I'm

51:35

sure respect to him, They have respect. Final question. I'm just going to say I feel like you're a restless founder and so so is a lot of the listeners out there And yeah, what advice would you give anyone? This thing where I know that is also restless. They want to stop, but they don't know how to start. You know, there's this big no code movement, and it seems like you know, you're an advocate off, you know, designing in a browse and like hacking away together. But What is this? What is your advice for anyone who's trying to get a foot in the door and create the first product? You

52:7

know, I see a lot of people trying to make things perfect before they launch it. And I was absolutely the same way. Um, I would take months to you get a product out the door, because again, it's kind of like my obsessive compulsive leg need tohave things absolutely pixel perfect. Before I launch something and I've totally changed my tune on that. I think if you have drive and you have passion for something, you want to build something, there is no one perfect way to do that. Uh, it's not set in stone. I think you should do it however you can. And if there are ways that you can build that thing and it's not perfect out the door, but it gets the idea out there, I think getting it out before it's perfect is better than not getting it out at all.

And that's how I'm living now. I definitely iterated way more quickly on ideas than than I have in the past. Uh, absolutely a restless founder. But at the same time having a kid. The other thing I want to say is I'm not willing to give extra hours that I don't have this something. I'm not this hus hustle kind of guy where I'm up all night working on things. I work generally 4 to 6 hours a day if that and other than that, I need that sleep so that I have, you know, the energy toe to kind of get through the day with my kid and in, you know, with the other things I'm working on, and for me, it's not worth it to kind of stay up and crank out 12 hours a day

53:46

on something good for you. I mean, that's take that away until this. And do you feel that it is possible for upcoming new makers to find success and only work 68 hours a

53:58

day? I do. I mean, leaflets was created on the side like an hour a day for I don't know. I think it took me two months to kind of get the initial platform out the door, and so, like, even if it's even if you only have an extra hour in your day to do something instead of thinking about it. Maybe you should just start doing it. Um, And I need to take my own advice because, you know, there's so many other things I'd like to do and jumping into that physical product realm. I should just take a little bit of time that I have extra during the day and put it towards something like that. If I want to do it

54:32

so no one should as light as possible. Aren't you the slightest possible? Well, it's, um Jason. Thanks so much for being on the show,

54:38

man. Huh? Thank you. It's been too long. I feel like we've known each other for so long, and we don't get often a chance The chat like this. And

54:47

so it's cool. Yeah, we should do it again. So the end of the show actually want to transition the listeners into an awesome day of work or just anything that's, you know, motivating. And I play an ultra song and I want to know what kind of genre I should end for. You go for the grunge man.

share this

Suggested Episodes